In the wake of Clarkson’s diatribe, we urgently need to challenge the role the media plays in perpetuating misogynistic attitudes
the toilet and within seconds burst into floods of tears. The physical memories of humiliation and sexual trauma from being raped when I was 21 flooded back – all because I had read an article written by Jeremy Clarkson in the Sun.
Over the years, many have spoken about Clarkson and his bigoted, contrarian opinions. It seems that in writing an article suggesting Meghan Markle ought to meet a misogynistic fate that was depicted in Game of Thrones, and be paraded down the street while people throw excrement at her, he has tripped over his own caricature. What’s worse is that many men and even some women have praised this despicable behaviour.
Many people, including a number of journalists, have defended Clarkson’s remarks on the grounds of freedom of speech. This is distorted and utterly distasteful. His remarks weren’t a joke about a popular TV show; they were hate. Language has power and satire reconfigures to serve the needs of the zeitgeist. Clarkson’s comments reminded me of the colonial, historical trauma where slave masters would print details of rapes and beatings in newspapers, condemning runaway enslaved people who had refused to conform to the rules of the plantation.
Freedom of speech is something that has wondrous power. There is beauty in the art of debate and differences of opinion. Such freedom is an essential part of democracy – but without ethics, how can we call ourselves civilised? Printing articles like this normalises violence against women. It desensitises cruelty and debases the credibility of journalism. So it’s no wonder that more than 60 MPs from different parties have written to the Sun’s editor – herself a woman – to demand an apology and that action is taken against Clarkson, or that more than 10,000 people have signed a petition I started opposing the article.
Women are sexually assaulted on a daily basis. Rape Crisis has reported that one in four women is raped or sexually assaulted as an adult; in March 2022, 70,330 rape cases were reported to the police. According to the charity, 618,000 women are raped or sexually assaulted every year. The criminal justice system consistently fails to protect us from these brutal forms of terrorism.